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LAUSD Superintendent Expects Deal With Teachers ‘This Week’ With April Reopening Plans On Track

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L.A. Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner receives a flu shot at a pop-up clinic on the San Fernando Middle School campus on Fri., Oct. 16, 2020. (Kyle Stokes/KPCC/LAist)
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Superintendent Austin Beutner expects the Los Angeles Unified School District will reach agreement with its teachers union “this week” on a deal on the safety protocols needed to allow on-campus instruction to resume in mid-April.

“Now that we have put in place all of the necessary health and safety measures for students and staff to return to schools in the safest possible way,” Beutner said Monday during his weekly video address, “we must provide the families we serve with a clear timeline to reopen schools.”

Beutner’s prediction comes days after United Teachers Los Angeles announced the results of a union-wide vote on reopening.

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More than 91% of the UTLA members who voted last week supported their leaders’ conditions for reopening, such as:

  • LAUSD classrooms should remain closed until all staff have received both doses of the coronavirus vaccine — plus a two week waiting period after the second dose.
  • The union and district officials must reach an agreement on safety protocols.
  • The union will “resist” any attempt to reopen schools so long as L.A. County remains in the purple tier.

Beutner said Monday morning that LAUSD continues to make progress toward a mid-April target for reopening pre-K programs and elementary schools:

  • Positivity rates are declining in L.A. County and, Beutner said, in the district’s own COVID-19 tests.
  • Of more than 54,000 district employees eligible for a coronavirus vaccine, Beutner said, some 35,000 “have received their first dose (or) are making appointments to do so.” (He said that so far, about 10% of employees have declined the vaccine.)
  • The state and federal governments have come through with nearly $2 billion in one-time funding that will pay for stepped-up cleaning on campuses, more help for needy students, and specialized support for students with disabilities: “It’s the Marshall Plan for schools that we’ve been calling for,” Beutner said, “and it’s becoming a reality.”

UTLA leaders have urged caution in reopening campuses, noting that LAUSD serves many low-income, majority-Black and Latino neighborhoods that COVID-19 has hit hard — and where many parents may be reluctant to send children back.
At the same time, several districts surrounding LAUSD have already either resumed on-campus instruction or announced plans to do so — including Long Beach Unified, the county’s second-largest.

Beutner said he was confident LAUSD and UTLA could reach a deal without rancor:

"We have acted together and with respect for and support of all who work in schools. No posturing, no name-calling and no need for threats – we have all been working toward the same goal – to return students to schools in the safest way possible."

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